looking forward

The Top CX Trends of 2016 & What To Focus On In 2017

by Sarah Wechsberg

This past year will go down as being the year that laid the groundwork for customer experience in many customer centric companies. More companies were focused on better understanding their customer and how to capture more data about customers. There were more CX conferences than ever before; more technologies available than before; more research and thought leadership; and more jobs available to support customer experience responsibilities.

If we had to sum up the successes, there were really three overall themes in 2016 that cemented the foundation for CX in business:

  • Customer Insights & Customer Data
    Voice of Customer (VOCs) technologies were the biggest CX investment of 2016. Why is that? Relatively, VOC technologies that provide customer surveying is the easiest of CX programs to implement. VOCs are the low hanging fruit that captures insights and data from customers and their experience. If an internal process is in place, the captured insights and data points can be addressed and/or improved with certain actions by the business. This process can help to improve internal processes, improve the experience and the satisfaction of the customer.VOC technologies have unearthed important information and businesses are faced with either improving pain points or losing customers. The businesses that realize this are starting to take action to fix the issues, retain customers and set themselves above their competition by winning with the best customer experience.
  • CX Job Postings
    Most of the businesses we work with are in the process of filling CX positions to strengthen their resources. More than ever before, there are more job postings for customer experience than even customer service. And likewise, more job seekers are searching for customer experience positions. This trend shows that more companies see the value of full time employees responsible for meeting the customer experience goals set forth by the company. It also reveals that management is approving budget for CX initiatives – creating jobs is just the beginning.
  • Employee Engagement & Culture
    The employee and culture variable in successful CX has been part of the discussion since the beginning of the customer experience revolution. Articles starting popping up in 2012 (which sounds oddly recent but in the CX space it is relatively old) but in 2016 there were more articles, blogs, and research discussing the connection between employees, culture and customer satisfaction than any year in history.The people side of CX holds a special place for us at CX Pilots so we are extra enthused that more conversations are happening to support stronger employee engagement.

What to focus on in 2017

By no means will the 2016 themes fade as we move more into 2017. All three themes are important in setting the foundation for customer experience. If anything, Customer Insights & Customer Data, CX Job Postings, and Employee Engagement & Culture should each be strengthened this year.

That being said, there are areas that have yet to peak but we think they will in 2017. In this new year, we forecast the next three themes in customer experience are as follows:

  • Prioritization
    Setting priorities and knowing what to do when is one of the biggest challenges leaders face (and not just in the CX space). There are two contributing factors that compound the complexity and uncertainty about what becomes a priority: the nascency of customer experience with relatively limited “veterans” providing insights and the fact that CX is unique to each business. How do you know what to do first or next when there are few examples and those that do exist are from another industry? It’s frustrating and we understand.Our clients often ask us “Where should my team focus their energy this quarter and then next quarter?” As annoying as it sounds, our answer is often “it depends”. The answer is not the same for every company and it depends on what dimensions are most important when making decisions. If cost, personnel resources, time are factors then these are important dimensions to factor into the prioritization process. Other dimensions you might consider include impact on the customer and impact on internal processes.Once you run your actions, initiatives and programs through a prioritization process, you will already be half the way towards a CX roadmap. Once you apply a timeline this will be the action plan guiding you and your team toward your CX goals.
  • Convergence of CX & Content
    Content is what drives customers to your company. Be it the video, the blog, the commercial, the billboard, the story that captured a customer and drew them in – content is at the heart of it. As companies strengthen their knowledge of the customer and build out an outside-in customer journey, this process will reveal opportunities for content that improves the customer experience. Every step along the customer’s journey is an opportunity to have the perfect piece of content and messaging that speaks to the customer at that stage along their journey. As CX matures, there will be less guessing on marketing content and campaigns and more data pointing to what content works for the customer when and where. Be the leader of the revolution by tying customer experience success metrics to the power of a piece of content. This is powerful and will take your customer experience initiatives, your company and your career to the next level.
  • Action-oriented Training
    As companies are starting to hire more for CX positions, training in CX initiatives also becomes important step and especially for new hires with little CX experience. Trainings bring your team up to speed with valuable information and teach your team valuable skills. One popular training in the CX space is customer journey mapping. Most often, your team goes into the training and learns how to map the journey of the customer and you may leave with a semi-complete or perhaps fully complete map. But what now? For 2017, trainings will need to focus on outcomes and moving beyond theory – putting action behind words. To tie this back to the customer journey workshop example, not only would you walk away with a customer journey map, but also actions to dig into the internal process for why a pain point is occurring somewhere. More robust trainings where your team learns by doing is going to have a much larger impact in successfully training your team to take action and move towards achieving your CX goals.
What CX efforts are you focusing on this year? What are your priorities? We would love to hear from you. If trainings and content are big part of your year but you’re not sure where to start, let us know. We have many resources that could help you achieve your goals.

Happy New Year!

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